Click here to see the forecast and read more notes on the week's weather.
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All focus has turned to this week's impending snowstorm, turning Sunday's mild weather into a distant memory.
AccuWeather Inc. meteorologist Tom Kines said the region could get 6 inches to 12 inches of snow on Thursday and strong winds could create additional problems.
There's little likelihood, he said, that the Midlands will dodge the storm.
“A lot would have to go wrong for this storm to bring us very little snow and very little wind,” he said Monday morning.
Just after noon on on Monday, the National Weather Service issued its first projection for Thursday's snowstorm: Widespread 8 inches to 12 inches with locally higher amounts.
"It's somewhat unusual that we have this high of confidence this far out," said Becky Kern, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Valley. "But the models have been hinting at all these right ingredients coming together for some time now."
As of Monday, the system generating this storm was still over the Pacific Ocean. As it drops down the California coast, moves across the Rocky Mountains and heads into the Plains, its path could shift a little, ultimately affecting snowfall totals, Kern said.
If the storm goes further north, the metro area won't get as much snow; if it goes further south, then amounts will be greater than those in the forecast, she said.
"It does continue to look like a widespread area of good snowfall," she said.
Both Kines and Kern say the snow is forecast to begin Wednesday evening or night, continue through Thursday and taper off Friday morning.
Thursday's commute could be messy. Omaha area commuters should be able to get home without significant problems Wednesday evening, but the heavy snow could arrive in time to bog down the morning commute.
The good news: The storm, which should push northeast toward Chicago on Friday, isn't likely to tarry. As a result, it is unlikely to disrupt events scheduled for Friday, including the state swim meet, Kines said.
A blizzard or just breezy?
What's more in question is who will receive the heaviest snows and the worst blizzard-like conditions.
Forecasts by AccuWeather Inc. and the National Weather Service disagree on whether Thursday's snowstorm is likely to create blizzard-like conditions; AccuWeather projects that winds will get strong enough to whip up the snow, while the National Weather Service says that's unlikely.
Regardless, the snowstorm is expected to be strong enough to bog down travel.
According to AccuWeather, the storm will create problems in Denver as it descends from the Rockies and moves across the Plains.
"As the storm progresses farther east, howling winds and driving snow will bring blizzard conditions to places from Goodland, Kan., to Grand Island and Omaha, Neb., Huron and Sioux Falls, S.D., and Des Moines, Iowa, by Thursday," according to AccuWeather.
By contrast, the National Weather Service is classifying Thursday's winds as "breezy," which means speeds of 15 mph to 25 mph - not strong enough to constitute a blizzard. For a blizzard to occur, the wind must gust frequently or relatively continuously at 35 mph or greater for at least three hours. And, of course, wind-whipped snow must reduce visibility to less than one-quarter of a mile.
Kern said forecasted wind speeds aren't strong enough to create blizzard conditions. On the other hand, periods of intense snow could obscure visibility and slow efforts to clear roads.
"The winds aren't screaming blizzard right now; what this storm system is screaming is heavy snow," she said.
Likewise, in central Nebraska, National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Moritz said travel will be difficult on Thursday, but a blizzard is unlikely.
"This is not a blizzard event, more of just a solid winter storm with heavy snow," he said.
Travel likely to bog down
Travel across the region will become difficult Wednesday night into Thursday, meteorologists agree, with problems beginning in the west and moving east.
Conditions are likely to begin deteriorating across Interstate 80 Wednesday night, said said Mike Moritz, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hastings.
Further east in Omaha, the heaviest snow is likely to kick up early Thursday morning with intense snowfall likely by late morning, according to Becky Kern, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Much of northern Missouri could see an icy mix of weather Thursday, making travel equally treacherous there, according to AccuWeather Inc., The World-Herald's private weather consultant.
Kansas City could be spared the worst of the storm if a dry slot develops there as forecast, said Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist for AccuWeather Inc.
The storm is forecast to move out of the area overnight Thursday into Friday morning, allowing plow crews some time to catch up.
Sosnowski said air travel could be disrupted from Denver to Chicago.
Storm's path explained